Located five kilometers (3.1 miles) away from the city center, Hamid Karzai International Airport of the Afghan capital Kabul bears telltale signs of the withdrawal of US troops.
Large heaps of garbage including broken equipment, scanners, and smashed screens are strewn in the airport building and, on the tarmac, which was forbidden territory for people till Tuesday midnight, when the last US soldier Major Gen. Chris Donahue, commander of the US Army 82nd Airborne Division left the country, announcing the conclusion of the 20-year war.
But what perplexed Afghanistan’s new rulers who took over the airport security was to find damaged military and commercial planes stationed at the airport apron.
Accompanying a group of reporters Taliban leader Maulavi Ahmadullah Mutaqi and Aryana Afghan International officials said the retreating troops have even disabled the civilian aircrafts.
Taliban has deployed its elite Badri 313 unit to protect the airport.
The US forces have damaged all of the Afghan National Air Force’s military planes, including Black Hocks helicopters, as well as the radar system and terminals, said Mutaqi.
Inside the passengers’ waiting room, the airport was portraying a picture of the junkyard, with large TV sets broken on the floor, and sofa sets and other facilities ruined.
The Taliban took full control of the airport in the wee hours on Tuesday, as the last US soldier left the airport unceremoniously.
On July 2, 2021, US troops departed in the same manner from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan’s largest military airfield.
“At the airport, we don’t have anything operating. The US has destroyed everything, including important parts of planes with gunfire,” Mutaqi claimed.
In response to a question about why US forces would leave military helicopters and planes in perfect condition, he stated that America had handed these military helicopters and planes to Afghanistan, not to individuals and that they were the property of the Afghan people.
“They had no right to do that. But they did it because of their anti-Afghanistan mindset,” he said.
Civilian planes damaged
Muttaqi alleged that the withdrawing US forces have purposefully damaged the equipment.
“They have damaged all of the military planes, vehicles, security systems, and even the radar system at the airport,” stated another Taliban commander, Mohammad Daud, while guiding reporters.
According to Doha Peace Agreement, the US should have withdrawn without harming the Afghan people’s national assets.
Showing bullet holes on an Aryana International commercial plane, the company’s Maintenance Director Ahmed Syar Rahat stated that the US has damaged all commercial planes and that it will take at least one month and around $10 million to make these planes operational.
“They have also destroyed the inside of the Aryana International planes,” he said.
While escorting the Anadolu Agency team to the hangars, workshop, and several other offices, he pointed out the broken computers and the equipment.
Rahat stated that the US had not only damaged all of the equipment at the airport but even removed the hard disk from his official computer.
His own workplace looks like a garbage dump. He was still managing to make a place for his work.
“We will attempt to manage it, but it all depends on money and approval to begin work on the restoration,” said the officer.
Rahat who previously served in the administrations of Presidents Ashraf Ghani and Hamid Karzai stated that he will have no difficulty working under the new system. “My job is to work with the national flag carrier and serve the Afghan people, so I will continue to do so. There will be no problem,” he said.